Retired American track legend Allyson Felix, accompanied by her husband Kenneth, recently enjoyed a blissful vacation on the picturesque island of Jamaica. The couple, expecting their second child later this year, took time off to unwind and relish the beauty of the Caribbean paradise.

Felix, who bid farewell to her illustrious track career at the end of the 2022 season, has had a storied connection with Jamaica. The island served as the backdrop for some of her fiercest competitions against Jamaican rivals like Veronica Campbell Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. The retired sprinter reminisced about her first encounter with Jamaica in 2002 when she competed as a junior at the World U20 Championships.

Sharing her Jamaican experience on Instagram, Felix expressed gratitude for the warm reception she received despite being a competitor. She reminisced about her 22-year journey, highlighting her medal-filled career that included an impressive tally of 22 gold medals at global championships, seven of which were Olympic and 14 World championships gold medals.

Felix, who shares a daughter named Camryn with Kenneth, posted a heartfelt message on Instagram, saying, "22 years ago, I went to Jamaica for the World Junior Championships and met my now-husband on that team. I also fell in love with the incredible people and the beautiful country. Even though they always cheered against me, I honestly feel so appreciated when I am here. It was only right for us to come back for our babymoon. Jamaica will forever hold a special place in my heart. Thank you for all of the love and hospitality, Jamaica."

The post garnered responses from fellow athletes, including Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, who welcomed Felix "home." In response, Felix conveyed her delight, stating, "@realshellyannfp definitely! Hahahah always good to be home."

Allyson Felix's Jamaican babymoon not only provided her with an opportunity to relish the island's beauty but also allowed her to reconnect with the memories of her impressive track career and the warm camaraderie she shares with her Jamaican competitors and her legion of fans on the island.

 

Curling Jamaica President Ian Robertson is aiming for Jamaica to become Olympic champions in the next decade and a half. The Canada-born and based Robertson, during a press conference hosted by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) on Monday, revealed plans to grow interest in the sport among Jamaicans in the coming years and eventually win Olympic gold.

“In 12 to 16 years, there is going to be a gold medal champion. That’s our vision, that’s our goal and we thank the Jamaica Olympic Association for helping is attempt to achieve that,” Robertson told media at the JOA Headquarters on Cunningham Avenue in Kingston.

Jamaican-born Ben Kong incorporated the Jamaica Curling Federation in Canada in 2020. The following year the Jamaica Curling Federation Limited was incorporated in Jamaica and operating as Curling Jamaica and in 2022 was granted membership to the Jamaica Olympic Federation and World Curling Federation, subsequently holding their first team practice in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Since then, it has made significant strides with Jamaican teams participating in the Pan Continental Championships held in Canada between October 29 and November 4, 2023. The women’s team made their international debut at the tournament and won the silver medal, finishing with a 5-2 record.

Jamaica’s Mixed Doubles team competed at the World Mixed Doubles qualifier in Dumfries, Scotland from December 2 to 9, 2023. Jamaica finished with a record of two wins and four losses in the 26 team tournament finishing third in their group from which China and France qualified for the World Championships.

“So we sent two teams to world events and since we are a new country we have to start in the pre-qualifying to work our way up to the actual world event,” Robertson explained.

“The women were five and two and we finished with the silver medal in the B Division of the Pan Continental. First place there would have put us into a world event, so they were one win away from being in the pool and a shot at the world championships. All of this earns points towards the Olympic pre-qualifying and getting into the main draw of the Olympics.

“We had sent a mixed doubles team to the mixed doubles world qualifying. There were 26 teams and it is broken down into pools. As it turns out two of the teams in the pool that Jamaica was in qualified for the worlds, so it was a tough group.”

Robertson revealed that there are plans for Jamaica to participate in more qualifying tournaments in 2024 as the association progresses its strategic plan for future growth.

“So this year we plan to have a men's team and a women's team which will play in the Pan Continentals in October and the next doubles team which will play at the end of November and potentially there'll be some other teams like World Seniors and various events like that which are more of practice for our players to get ready for the national, the big national three teams.”

Meantime, the association is concentrating on growing its membership thus widening the pool of potential players it can select from.

“Over the last couple of years we've grown the membership from the three. We actually have expanded to 25 now with our membership and like a sponsorship that helps us grow our finances so we can pay for day-to-day business transactions and so on.

 “Our goal is to grow from within and the ultimate goal is to have four Jamaicans learn how to curl and in 12 to 16 years they win a gold medal in the Olympics.”

As news of her impending retirement continues to reverberate throughout the track and field community, two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continues to draw praise from some of the sport’s biggest stars.

The most recent to sing the Mommy Rocket’s praises were Olympic and World Champion Justin Gatlin and co-host Rodney Green on their Ready Set Go Podcast.

Since she won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, Fraser-Pryce has gone on to have one of the most dominating careers in track and field history. Her win in Beijing made her first Jamaican woman to win Olympic 100m gold. Her follow-up victory in 2012 made her only the third woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles joining other greats Wyoma Tyus and Gail Devers of the USA to accomplish the feat.

Winning the world 100 title in Berlin in 2009, saw her become the first woman to hold Olympic and World titles simultaneously, a feat she would accomplish twice after victories in London in 2012 and Moscow in 2013.

Feats such as these are why Green lamented her decision to hang up her spikes after what will be her fifth Olympic campaign in Paris this summer.

“Man, we ‘bout to lose a female juggernaut of our sport, man, a staple. I mean, I think in her country they should, I don't know if a statue would do or they should name a track or something, man. Man, we going to lose Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce this year, man, this is our last year around the world, you know, competing. What do you think about that?

(Jamaica unveiled a statue of Fraser-Pryce at Independence Park in Kingston in 2018.)

In response, Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion and 2005 and 2017 World Champion, lauded the Jamaica superstar for her work on and off the track, stating, “Man, Shelly-Ann has been such an inspiration to the sport for so long. Watching her make her first Olympic team in 2008 and her dominance for so many years into the sport and watching her grow. She was out there in the world and watching her mature into the powerful, successful woman she is now, hat’s off to her. She deserves everything.”

Gatlin, who enjoyed a fierce rivalry against Fraser-Pryce’s contemporary, Usain Bolt, made reference to her fierce rivalry with compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah and what it did to bring energy to the sport.

“We wish she could run many, many more years because she is the kind of person that rises to the occasion,” said Gatlin of the Jamaican who has only once failed to win a 100m medal in a global championship. That was in 2011 when she finished fourth in the 100m final in Daegu, South Korea.

Fraser-Pryce won 100m gold at the World Championships in 2007, 2009, 2013, 2019 and 2022. She was third at the most recent championships in Budapest, Hungary. She missed the 2017 championship because she was pregnant with her son Zyon.

“Watching her duke it out with Elaine (Thompson-Herah) throughout the years,” Gatlin continued, “they’d be seeing who would get to 10-7 first and then who would get to 10-6, and it made for pure entertainment because they both rose to the occasion.”

Green then chimed in clarifying that Fraser-Pryce not only battled with her Jamaican counterpart but also with the very best the USA had to offer.

“Elaine is just the recent one. She battled with many people that banged, like Carmelita Jeter. She went back and forth with Jet, man. She went back and forth with Veronica Campbell from her own country and the late great Tori (Bowie).”

 Gatlin then said, “She battled every elite female in this era.”

“Juggernauts, 10-6, 10-7 women through time, man,” Green remarked. “Like she has been amazing to our sport, she has been graceful to our sport. She has been nothing but a class act and I just think she will definitely be missed.

“I think as she makes her rounds this year, around the world, farewell tour, every country she goes, win or loss, when she runs, they should let her do a lap man, because this is the last time we’re going to get to see an amazing athlete grace track and field; the Mommy Rocket. It’s sad to see her go but I understand why she has to go.”

In a recently published interview with Essence Magazine, the 37-year-old Fraser-Pryce explained that her decision to retire after the Olympic Games in Paris stems from her wanting to dedicate more time to her family.

“There’s not a day I’m getting up to go practise and I’m like, ‘I’m over this’,” she said. “My son needs me. My husband and I have been together since before I won in 2008. He has sacrificed for me.

“We’re a partnership, a team. And it’s because of that support that I’m able to do the things that I have been doing for all these years. And I think I now owe it to them to do something else.”

 

Gatlin said he understood her decision.

"She said she owes it to her family to do something else now, especially her husband said she's been competing from 2008.She's been married for some time now for her husband and her child too. She owes it to them to just do something else and that's very honorable. Absolutely.

"I mean, when you when you are an athlete of her stature, your time is limited because your focus is on your own success, because that's what got you to where you're at, and you try to kind of juggle or balance family time, personal life around your successful career but everything, everything in your life is kind of floating around track, so now it's like with her son becoming older and having more time to be able to be a wife and a mom that's important.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 On the Instagram biography of Julien Alfred, there are three lines. The first says ‘Athlete’. The second is the flag of Saint Lucia, while the third says ‘Romans 8:18’ – a verse from the bible that states our “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”


At the age of 22, Alfred has already experienced her fair share of suffering, and indeed glory.


There was the loss of her father, Julian, when she was 12. There was moving away from home, to Jamaica, at just 14. There was the death last December of her old PE teacher, Simeon Stephen, who first discovered Alfred’s talent and convinced her to stay the course in athletics.


Then there is the glory.


Alfred is the reigning NCAA indoor champion over 60m and 200m, the reigning NCAA outdoor champion over 100m and 200m. She’s the 2023 Bowerman Award winner, the prize given to the outstanding collegiate track and field athlete each year. She’s the fastest woman in the world this year over 60m and 200m, which makes her a huge contender at next month’s World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24.


At this time of year, she knows all about the link between suffering and glory, given a key part of her preparation is the over-distance work that few sprinters enjoy.


“I never considered myself a 200m runner,” she says. “Only last year I got better at it because I dedicated myself to running it more with the longer workouts, which I hated before.”


They’re still not her favourite, though to strike gold in Glasgow she knows they’re essential. A few months ago, when they circled the event on her calendar, Alfred’s coach Edrick Floreal noted that the three rounds of the women’s 60m will take place on the same day.


“So being the fastest woman doesn’t play as much of a role as being the strongest woman,” he says. “Being able to run 22.2 and 22.1 (for 200m), you’re not going to die of fatigue. I need the athlete to be strong enough to replicate the same performance three times in a row.”

Saint Lucia – a Caribbean island with a population of about 180,000 people – has never won a medal at the World Indoors before, its best result being a fifth-place finish in the high jump for Levern Spencer in 2016. But Alfred looks poised to change that. She clocked a world-leading 6.99 to take victory at the Millrose Games in New York, a World Athletics IndoorTour Gold meeting, last Sunday. The run was even more impressive given her relatively sluggish start.

She didn’t have a time goal in mind that day, the objective being to “work on my start, my execution and transition.” How did that go? “I have to go back to my coach and see how I did,” she said. “I’m sure he will say it wasn’t good.”

Alfred was right.

“The start was awful,” says Floreal. “She kind of stood up, so it’s back to work on that, but I like where things are – the fact she can mess up the start and still have the strength to deal with the charge.”

In her first year as a professional, that ability to stay calm under pressure could prove a key one.

As Floreal explains: “It’s (about) handling that anxiety. That’s my job: to help her win the race from behind so she doesn’t feel like she has to have a good start. When they think, ‘I need to get a great start to get a medal,’ they put tonnes of pressure on themselves to get that and sometimes you’re stymied by that in the race. Now, I can have a s***ty start and still run 6.99 – that helps with confidence.”

Alfred has been working with Floreal since the start of 2019, when she enrolled at the University of Texas. They first met a few months before that, at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where Alfred won silver in the 100m. Floreal was the reason she chose Texas.

“While I was in high school in Jamaica, I watched him coach Sydney (McLaughlin-Levrone), Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, he was also coaching Keni (Harrison) at the time,” says Alfred. “Seeing him have a huge amount of great athletes, I wanted to be with a coach like that.”

Alfred grew up in Castries, the capital city of Saint Lucia, and her sprint talent was first spotted at the age of “six or seven” as she raced around the courts at school. Stephen, her PE teacher, made her race against the boys – she won – and after that she joined an athletics club, working with coach Cuthbert Modeste. Her childhood hero was Usain Bolt, and Alfred dreamed of one day doing similar things on the track. But following the death of her father, she fell away from athletics. It was Stephen who brought her back. “He saw the potential in me,” she says.

In 2015, she moved to Jamaica to attend St Catherine High School, where she came under the guidance of coach Marlon Jones. From there it was on to Texas, where she took a big leap forward, lowering her 60m PB to 7.10 in 2020 at the age of 18. The following year was lost to injury, with Alfred forced to watch the Tokyo Olympic Games from afar. But she bounced back better than ever in 2022, lowering her 100m PB to 10.81 and winning the NCAA title.

A false start in the 100m semi-final at the World Championships in Oregon proved a costly mistake, one she’s yet to repeat. Last year, her star truly went supernova, with Alfred setting collegiate records to win the NCAA indoor 60m title in 6.94 and the 200m in 22.01, both times putting her second on the world all-time lists. With another dominant sprint double at the outdoor NCAA Championships last June – she won the 100m in 10.72 (2.3m/s) and 200m in 21.73 (2.5m/s) – she closed out a magnificent collegiate career, then signed a professional deal with Puma.

Her goal at last year’s World Championships was to win a medal, but she came up just short in Budapest, finishing fifth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m.

These days, athletics has her full-time focus, with Alfred putting her spare time to use by doing driving lessons. Since the autumn, she has trained alongside Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 2019 world 200m champion, along with her long-time college teammate Rhasidat Adeleke of Ireland, the reigning NCAA 400m champion.

“It’s competitive, which makes it fun,” says Alfred. “Iron sharpens iron.”

Saint Lucia has never won an Olympic medal in any sport, and Alfred knows the hype is building as the Games approach. But the only pressure she feels is from within.

“I don’t really pay attention to the media but I do have a lot of supporters back home who give messages to my family and they transfer to me,” she says. “I definitely want a medal in Paris – a gold, silver or bronze in the 100m and 200m.”

 The path to an achievement like that is filled with hard work and tedious, painstaking repetition. In addition to her start, Alfred has been focusing on improving her strength and her technique. “Sometimes late in the races I use my shoulders too much,” she says.

It’s something Floreal drills into her at every workout. “The main thing is good mechanics, being able to hold that under fatigue,” he says.

Success at major championships also requires a strong mindset. What is Alfred like in that department?

“She’s fantastic,” says Floreal, who’s been highly impressed with how Alfred has handled the transition to the pro ranks. “It’s a difficult adjustment a lot of kids are not able to do; there’s a lot of people pulling at you.”

While she’s already donned her nation’s colours with pride on the global stage, the difference this year is that without an extensive NCAA schedule, she can give such championships her full focus. First up is Glasgow, then all roads lead to Paris. Saint Lucia might never have won a medal at those events, but Alfred isn’t concerned about the past, thinking only of the future.

“I’d love to be the first,” she says.

Jamaica's national 400m champion, Sean Bailey, is celebrating a significant personal milestone as he has announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend Denae McFarlane. Following a proposal in a romantic setting on Valentine's Day, the 26-year-old athlete shared the joyous news via Instagram, declaring, "She said yes!" The engagement comes at a pivotal moment in Bailey's career as he prepares to secure a spot on Jamaica's team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

Bailey, the younger brother of Jamaican sprint icon Veronica Campbell-Brown, has steadily risen among the world's elite 400m runners. In 2023, he solidified his status with notable achievements, including a personal best of 44.43 at the Drake Relays. His remarkable victory over Olympic gold medalist Kirani James highlighted his prowess and set the stage for a successful season.

The two-time national champion continued his stellar performance by claiming his second national title in July, clocking an impressive 44.48 to fend off a fast-finishing Antonio Watson, the eventual world champion. Despite injury setbacks at the World Athletic Championships in Budapest, where he finished fifth in the final won by Watson, Bailey signed a professional contract with Adidas.

As Bailey focuses on his Olympic preparations, his fiancée McFarlane, a former standout from Edwin Allen High School, has also made a mark in the world of athletics. Currently pursuing academic studies as a senior at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), McFarlane has showcased her talents on the track.

While McFarlane may not have reached the heights achieved by her fiancé, she has proven herself as a quality athlete. Hailing from the parish of Clarendon, McFarlane has represented her university with distinction, earning recognition such as the 2023 All-Conference USA Second Team in the 100m Outdoors, All-Conference USA Second Team in the 4x100m Outdoors, and 2023 All-Conference USA Third Team in the 60m Indoors.

 

 

It will be an Olympic Games in Paris and an Independence Day in Jamaica to remember as the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and PUMA International join forces to bring to a global citizenry an experience in friendship and mutuality in sport and a cultural expose of Jamaica’s culture.

The JOA and PUMA will be partnering to celebrate Jamaica’s independence in Paris on August 6 and JOA Day on August 7 in the historic capital of France which is known universally for its avant-garde and exquisite taste for cuisine and art.

But for those days Jamaica’s culture in sport, music and food  and Olympism will be  spotlighted and take pride of place in a glorious display for Jamaica’s golden sporting champions and ambassadors, Jamaican fans, patriots resident in France, the worldwide Olympic officialdom, international personalities in sport and entertainment and athletes across the Olympic spectrum.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Christopher Samuda, in commenting on this historic and landmark partnership said, “We, the JOA and PUMA, are innovators in sport as we are constantly revolutionizing its ethos in giving capital and currency to stakeholders in building an inspiring world view of sport and in articulating a universal language of hope. It will be a Jamaican reggae yard experience in PUMA’s house, a home away from home sporting experience for many and a household name and legacy in the annals of Olympic history.”

This activation was inevitable as the messages of the JOA and PUMA converge in sporting values and prowess which are defining of their brands and way of life. JOA Secretary General and CEO, Ryan Foster, is an advocate of this and makes it clear that “August 6 and 7 will be the destinations in Paris for all roads will lead to Jamrock in PUMA’s house where food, music and our vibes will imprint values on the sporting landscape and leave lasting footprints.”

If there is any doubt as to the JOA’s perspective, Secretary General Foster provides certainty. “Globalizing brand Jamaica, internationalizing brand JOA and personalising sport remain a primary focus and mandate  and ‘JaParis’ our Olympic manor, will be iconic,” he said.

Central to the JOA’s domestic outlook and foreign policy are the athletes of its member associations and federations who President Samuda says “define what we do, how we do it and when we do it and the 2024 JOA PUMA French connection will be a blockbuster.”

In a few days shy of six months, members of the sporting fraternity will, in Paris, savour the best of the city courtesy of the JOA and PUMA.

Tom Dean is counting on his aura giving him an added edge at this summer’s Olympics as he chases history on two fronts in Paris.

Dean joined an illustrious list including Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps by pipping close friend and British team-mate Duncan Scott to gold in the men’s 200 metres freestyle at Tokyo 2020.

As well as seeking to become the first man to retain that title, Dean has eyes on winning five medals in the French capital and usurping Scott as Britain’s most decorated athlete at a single Games.

Having already made a name for himself on the grandest stage, the Bath-based 23-year-old has noticed a shift in attitudes from his rivals and hopes to use it to his advantage in six months’ time.

“I’ll always be announced as Olympic champion,” Dean told the PA news agency. “I’ll be announced as reigning Olympic champion heading into this meet, it’s not an arrogance thing, it’s just the way it is.

“It’s a fact. If that plays into people’s minds then good, I hope it does and I hope it stamps a degree of authority. I’ve felt it in terms of how I’ve been approached by other swimmers since Tokyo.

“Having a reputation can only only play into my hands. There’s obviously pressure, there’s been pressure every time I’ve stepped up to race since winning that Olympic gold and this is no different.

“There’s a target on your back at domestic and international meets, you’ve got a target at training sessions, when people are trying to beat you when you’re just doing your reps. It’s always the way.”

Scott was on the podium four times at Tokyo 2020, including winning gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay alongside Dean, who edged out his team-mate by four hundredths of a second to claim individual glory.

Along with attempting to win those crowns again, Dean intends to compete in the men’s 200m individual medley, the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay and the men’s 4×100m medley relay.

“I’m making a conscious effort to give myself the best shot, it’s a momentous task – the stars are going to have to align because anything can change,” Dean said.

Despite Dean being Olympic champion, Britain can only choose two swimmers for the men’s 200m freestyle, with Scott and Matt Richards, who won gold at last year’s World Championships, also in the mix.

The British Championships at the London Aquatics Centre in April doubles as the Olympic trials and Dean acknowledges the strength in depth can only be a good thing.

“The Olympic trials is going to be just as hard as the Olympic Games,” Dean, who is set for a brief trip to Doha next month for a relay race at the World Championships, said.

“I need to make sure I stamp my ticket to Paris. It’s not going to be easy and everyone will be fighting their hardest to get on that team. That’s why we’re so strong on those relay events.”

In his quest for additional advantages, Dean, who won seven medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and four at last year’s World Championships, has launched a podcast which will build towards the Olympics.

Titled ‘Tom Dean Medal Machine’, the double Olympic champion will sit down weekly with celebrity guests to pick their brains and see if he can glean anything from them that can help him in France.

“There’s a reason why people do sports psychology because it helps them tweak that area of your game, there’s a reason why you speak to a nutritionist to help that area of your game,” Dean added.

“Why can’t I speak to someone who’s stepped out on stage at a music festival in front of 20,000 people? I’ll be stepping out and performing in front of 20,000 people come Paris.

“I’m convinced there are things to be taken from every single different person who’s gone and done something like that.”

:: Tom Dean Medal Machine is available from 25th January, listen and follow here: https://www.globalplayer.com/podcasts/42KweB/

Draymond Green's disciplinary issues this season have played a part in him missing out on selection for the Paris Olympics, so says Team USA chief Grant Hill.

Green, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, has not made the 41-man list, which was unveiled on Tuesday.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid all featured on the list, which will be whittled down to a 12-man roster ahead of the Olympics, which take place in July and August in the French capital.

But Golden State Warriors power forward Green, who helped Team USA triumph in 2016 and 2021, will not feature at another Games, with executive director Hill claiming the two suspensions the NBA has handed the 33-year-old's way in recent months have swayed that decision.

Having served a five-game suspension in November for grappling with Rudy Gobert, Green then missed a further 12 games after striking the head of Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic.

"His contributions have been significant, and he is a real part of the legacy of this organisation for his excellence," Hill said of Green.

"But I think just in lieu of sort of what's transpired this year, we made a decision to not have [Green] on this list with this particular point in time with the process."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is set to take charge of Team USA at the Paris Games.

Tokyo Olympics 100m hurdles  bronze medalist Megan Tapper has inked a major three-year sponsorship deal with the luxury all-inclusive Jamaican-born super brand, Sandals Resorts International. The AC Hotel Kingston, on Friday, hosted the contract-signing ceremony held with Sandals’ Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart, Tapper, members of her family and some of her closest supporters.

Tapper gained recognition during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first-ever Jamaican female athlete to clinch an Olympic medal in the 100-metre sprint hurdles. However, it wasn't just the two-time Olympian's athletic prowess that won hearts, but also her effervescent personality that captivated many Jamaicans, including Sandals' executive chairman.

“I think it is fair to say that Megan is a reflection, through her smile, of what Jamaica’s soul represents. Her achievements on the world stage speak for themselves, but the way she conducts herself, the way she inspires the next generation, the way she brings to life the feeling of Jamaica through her smile and how she acts and carries herself is something that Sandals Resorts International wanted to be associated with. We love superstars, and we love standing on the world stage ourselves. We love boasting about everything Jamaica is and can continue to be, and I saw a reflection of our company in Megan,” Adam Stewart stated, as he welcomed the Olympian to the Sandals’ family.

Stewart expressed that Tapper and athletes like herself continue to vividly demonstrate that Jamaica is more than “likkle but tallawah.”

 

He described Jamaican athletics as a password that propels the country’s approximate three million people to the world stage, inspiring the international community to want to visit and experience Jamaica’s rich culture, warm people and breathtaking beauty.

“So when you are running, you’re doing so much more than just crossing the hurdles for yourself and for team Jamaica. You’re actually helping the entire three million people have a strong and bold future,” he conveyed to Tapper.

Stewart also proudly declared that Tapper now has the unwavering and enthusiastic support of Sandals Resorts and its expansive army of devoted Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals globally.

Tapper, visibly moved by the Executive Chairman’s sentiments, admitted that she was close to tears and overwhelmed by his extraordinary show of support. She described the sponsorship deal with Sandals as a golden and incredible opportunity, especially as she prepares for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games to be held in Paris, France, this year.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this partnership with Sandals as I gear up to make my third Olympic team,” a beaming Tapper said. “I can’t wait to soar to new heights and bring the essence of the Caribbean sun and the Sandals smile to every single country that I go to. It’s an incredible opportunity and I am excited to represent such a fantastic brand. I am confident that this will be an unforgettable partnership. This collaboration is an important one because it reiterates that Sandals, though not an apparel brand, supports sport in Jamaica, which, along with tourism, is consistently doing well on the world stage and will obviously continue to do so. I am confident that this partnership will contribute positively towards carrying the brand to new heights,” she added while expressing heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the luxury all-inclusive resort brand.

Over the years, Sandals Resorts International has sponsored sports in Jamaica and the region, including cricket and motorsports. With this latest partnership forged with Tapper, Sandals' Executive Chairman used the opportunity to graciously recognise other Jamaican brands who support local athletics.

 

He extended commendation to companies such as Digicel and cordially called on corporate Jamaica to continue these types of partnerships.

“When you look at Digicel’s stamp on athletics and their commitment to the sport, I think it’s something that cannot be overlooked without expressing gratitude as a Jamaican and a Caribbean national. All the other companies such as Grace Kennedy, that support Jamaican athletics undoubtedly deserve commendation. I just want to encourage those companies that have been around for a long time to continue to support – and the new companies- to hold hands and continue to fight. Jamaica is in a league of its own, do what is right and support Jamaican athletics,” the Sandals boss stated.

Chloe Kelly and Nikita Parris have backed their England team-mates to recover from the gut-wrenching disappointment of missing out on a chance of featuring at the Olympic Games in 2024.

The Lionesses lifted the Euro 2022 trophy and reached the final of the Women's World Cup a year later, but there was no fairytale ending to their Women's Nations League story.

Sarina Wiegman's European champions hammered Scotland 6-0 in their last fixture in Group A1 this month, but the Netherlands' 4-0 win over Belgium saw them top the standings.

Had Olympic qualification been determined by World Cup placings, Team GB would have qualified thanks to their nominated representative England making the final, losing 1-0 to Spain.

However, the new Nations League competition dictates who will travel to Paris next year and Germany, Spain and the Netherlands will now battle for two of three spots alongside hosts France.

Manchester City star Kelly, speaking at the launch of the first ever Panini Barclays Women's Super League sticker collection at the National Football Museum, said: "I think it is the way we bounce back from those losses, I think we can learn a lot from the whole duration of that Nations League.

"Being more consistent throughout the tournament because we left it to the last two games and we cut ourselves short.

"We are a great side and it is about getting some rest now, recovering and going again."

While there will be no Olympic dream for Wiegman and her England players, another European Championship campaign will follow in Switzerland in 2025.

Owing to the difficult task of qualifying for the Games, Parris echoed Kelly's message as she insisted the Lionesses will come back stronger.

Parris added: "It was a disappointment, fine margins, especially when in the Nations League, top teams are playing against each other.

"You do want that competition and it's such a hard route to go to the Olympics for the European sides, but for sure the girls will be super disappointed about the results and not going to the Olympics in 2024.

"The bounce back will be very quick, however. The focus will then go to the Euros and I'm sure everyone is raring and ready to go for the next games."

Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis acknowledged the Lionesses' "failure" but assured Wiegman will use the experience as a learning curve.

Brown-Finnis said: "It's an unusual one, not qualifying for the Olympics, it comes off the back of a Covid-postponed European Championships.

"Obviously we went on and won that one on home soil, so it's a congested fixture period and I'm not making excuses for the failure because all those players desperately wanted to be at the Olympics.

"It's what every national team in women's football aspires to do, to play in their continental championships, the World Cup and the Olympics, one year off and repeat.

"So it's a failure, absolutely, but it didn't happen on the last day against Scotland, it happened in the previous games.

"They'll come back, they'll have the summer off, which I think will definitely be a benefit, and Sarina Weigman, she'll learn from it, she'll learn what her players need.

"She's only two years into her tenure and what a success… she has been unbelievable, so I hope she sticks around for a long time and brings more success to the Lionesses."

World Athletics president Lord Coe fears fans – and athletes – could be priced out of next summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Coe is concerned over sky-high costs, with tickets for an athletics session at the Stade de France costing as much as £850 on the official Paris 2024 website. The cheapest admission for an evening session is £170.

Athletics remains the number one Olympic sport and, after sell-out crowds at August’s World Championships in Budapest, Coe is mindful of the costs.

“These are going to be the most expensive ticket prices in an athletics arena that we have witnessed at an Olympic Games,” he said. “We asked for a balance.

“The most important element here is you want fans in the stadium, you want fans within affordable prices. I know the challenge on a budget – 25 per cent of our budget in London was tickets.

“Our ticket strategy was built three years before the Games. We knew more about our fans at the end of that. We had some expensive tickets in there but we also had a lot at affordable prices.

“These are difficult balances for any organising committee, but if I am wearing my World Athletics hat, I don’t want fans being costed out of the stadium and I certainly don’t want athletes and their families being costed out of the stadium.

“If you look over the course of an athlete’s career, there are very few athletes that are able to sit down and say they got in commercial
sponsorship more than what their families put in.

“Most are sitting there at the end of a 15-year career and saying it was my families that bore the brunt of what I did, in terms of funding time, commitment and all the things. I want to be respectful for them, so that’s the challenge.

“We have made the point that these prices are lumpy. In Budapest we had very affordable price tickets. Tokyo (2025 World Championships) we will make sure we get the same as well.

“There are always going to be premium tickets, but it is important that our stadiums are full of people that love our sport, not people that can afford to get to an Olympics.”

Coe also said his vote for BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Tuesday evening would go to world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who regained her title in Budapest after recovering from a serious Achilles injury.

The 30-year-old has been shortlisted along with England goalkeeper Mary Earps, former cricketer Stuart Broad, jockey Frankie Dettori, tennis player Alfie Hewett and golfer Rory McIlroy, but Coe felt there should also have been a spot for 1500m world champion Josh Kerr.

“It’s a world championship,” Coe said. “Of course I’m going to say this, but this isn’t being remotely disparaging about anyone else on that list. That’s not my issue.

“The issue is that there are two truly global sports; one is football, one is track and field. Both Katarina and Josh Kerr won a world championship in one of the most fiercely competitive sports on the planet.

“Do I think there was room for both of them on that list? Of course I do. There is only Katarina Johnson-Thompson, so of course I’m going to say, as the president of World Athletics, I would be voting for her, because she’s a world champion, it was an extraordinary comeback, and she won a global world championship.”

Olympic 400m champion Steven Gardiner is back to full health and is determined to defend his title in Paris, France next year.

In one of the more heartbreaking moments of the 2023 World Athletics Championships, the Bahamian star, who won the 400m title in Doha in 2019 and on the rebound from an injury that kept him out of the championships in Oregon in 2022, suffered an injury in his semi-final heat, tragically ending his campaign in Budapest.

Running out lane six in the last of three semi-finals, Gardiner was in complete control when he suddenly collapsed and fell to the track. He later revealed he had suffered a grade-one sprain of the tendon extending into the knee of the right posterior thigh.

His injury opened the door for Jamaica’s Antonio Watson, who advanced to the final with the fastest time of 44.13, to win Jamaica’s first gold medal in the event in 40 years.

However, in an interview with Bahamian media platform Eyewitness News, the soft-spoken Gardiner expressed confidence about his coming campaign to win a second Olympic gold medal.

“I’m back 100 per cent. Between my doctors in Germany and my coach in the US, we all are on one accord to take it slowly at the beginning of the season and then we’ll be ready for Paris 2024,” he said.

Gardiner revealed that there is only one objective for the coming season.

“The gold medal is the main goal. You know, to bring the medal home to Bahamas once more and also to defend the title that I conquered in 2021, so I just want to do it all again.”

Will Perrett knows he faces an uphill battle in his bid to make Great Britain’s Olympic squad next summer but the 27-year-old is well accustomed to fighting against the odds.

Perrett will be back at the Lee Valley Velodrome this weekend for the final two rounds of the UCI Track Champions League, 11 months after a stunning victory in the men’s scratch race here helped him force his way on to Britain’s podium programme.

At the time, Perrett had quit his job and was self-funding in a bid to prove himself to the national team coaches, and his Champions League display came after he had taken a points race fifth on his World Championships debut and won the British Madison title alongside Mark Stewart.

It worked and in January he was invited in to train full-time as part of the elite programme.

But nothing has come easily for Perrett and a fresh setback was just ahead. In March he was diagnosed with glandular fever as a result of the Epstein-Barr virus.

“Initially I was just incredibly ill,” Perrett told the PA news agency. “I had tonsillitis-esque symptoms and incredible fatigue. I’d go for a walk around the block, come back and sleep for an hour. It was horrible. You feel a bit helpless.”

Had it happened while Perrett was funding himself, the illness could have ended his elite racing career.

“I would have been absolutely screwed,” he said. “If I’d not been on the programme I wouldn’t have been able to race, I wouldn’t even have been able to work because I was so tired. It could have ended everything.

 

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“That’s a massive benefit of being on the programme. You get so much help from the doctors, the coaches. They’ve not been pushy. They’ve said, ‘Look, we need to rebuild your foundations and then build you back up.’ That’s what I’m hoping to do this winter.”

 

Perrett believes he is still missing around five per cent of his threshold – a massive number at the elite end.

Yet he was able to claim another fifth place in the points race at the World Championships in Glasgow and earn another invitation to the Champions League, the glitzy made-for-television series which is in its third season.

Perrett struggled for results in the opening three rounds in Mallorca, Berlin and Paris as he works his way back up to speed, but will come to London for the sold-out finale on Friday and Saturday buoyed by memories of last December.

“I’ve been a bit ropey after a bit of time off after the worlds but I’ve loved being back (in the Champions League),” he said. “It’s good fun, the racing and the atmosphere.”

 

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There will be plenty of British interest in London, with defending champion Katie Archibald top of the women’s endurance standings, Emma Finucane third in the women’s sprint, and Will Tidball and Stewart fourth and fifth respectively in the men’s endurance.

Perrett’s goal is to keep plugging away for form as he eyes selection for the Euros in January. He remains an outsider for Paris as only four male endurance riders will go, meaning those four must be competitive in the team pursuit, but a chance is all he asks for.

“At the moment I haven’t got the results or the experience at that level of team pursuiting,” he said. “Only four riders go to the Olympics. It’s a crazy stupid rule. The Madison is a 200-lap, 50 minute event but to get into that you have to be able to get into the one that lasts three minutes 45 seconds.

“It’s a stupid rule but it’s the one you have to aim towards…But I have an opportunity and as long as I get the opportunity, that’s what matters.”

 Wary of the competition she's likely to face in her last Olympic Games in Paris next year, two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is planning to participate in more races before heading to Europe for her final showdown.

 A knee injury and undisclosed physical challenges kept Fraser-Pryce from competing in many races leading up to the 2023 World Championships in Budapest in August, possibly contributing to her third-place finish in the 100m. As the only woman to medal in the 100m at four consecutive Olympic Games, she ran 10.77, a time insufficient to outpace the newly crowned World Champion ShaCarri Richardson of the United States, who finished in 10.65, breaking Fraser-Pryce's championship record of 10.67 set just a year earlier in Eugene, Oregon.

 Shericka Jackson, a gold medal favourite heading into Budapest, secured silver with a time of 10.72, 0.07s slower than her time at the Jamaica national championships in July.

 Recognizing the need to run faster in Paris, Fraser-Pryce understands that more races are essential in preparation for the ultimate showdown.

 "Yeah, for sure. Not only race sharpness but race confidence is something I definitely need. This year, I didn't have a choice not to race due to setbacks in my knee and other issues, and I didn't want to risk it," she shared with Sportsmax.TV. "So, I trusted my coach's judgment. Next year, once I'm healthy, I really want to start earlier and build that race momentum as I head into the Olympics."

 Fraser-Pryce believes that being healthy and competing in more races is crucial because the Olympics, as the pinnacle of sports, is where everyone brings their 'A' game.

 "The Olympics are so different. For some reason, athletes find a unique energy and motivation to come prepared. I want to ensure I give myself the best opportunity to represent myself."

A Jamaican sprint hurdler is facing provisional suspension after he tested positive for a banned substance. Sportsmax.TV has confirmed that the male athlete has tested positive for a substance that features prominently on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.

The athlete has shone on the international stage in recent years winning medals in the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games and the Continental Cup.

Track authorities say the hurdler was informed of the positive test which came following an analysis of a sample by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO). The sprint hurdler was tested last month.

It's expected that the athlete's B-sample will be tested.

He'll then be required to face a hearing to determine whether he will face sanctions that include being banned from the sport.

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